Downey’s Potato Chips has been in business for 37 years. The company was started by the Downey family in Waterford, Michigan. From its humble beginnings selling freshly fried kettle chips made in small batches from its storefront, the business had customers lining up to indulge in their crispy, crunchy goodness. After a few years, the chips became so popular that the business outgrew its small shop and moved to its current facility, investing in commercial processing equipment to satisfy demand.
To produce Downey’s Potato Chips, locally sourced potatoes from Michigan farmers are peeled and carved of imperfections, sliced and cooked. For the peeling step, Downey’s uses a Vanmark peeling machine . Due to its continued growth and plans for the future, the company recently upgraded to the 1820 model, a compact yet high-quality peeler.
The new Vanmark peeling machine has allowed Downey’s to double its throughput in the same amount of time. The manufacturer used to be able to peel and wash about 1,000 pounds of potatoes per hour. The new machine can peel and wash 1,000 lbs. of potatoes in under 30 minutes.
“The quicker we can peel, the faster we can get to frying,” says Kali Bagley, general manager of Downey’s Potato Chips. “The faster we can get to frying, the quicker we can get to packaging. And the faster we can get to packaging, the more bags of chips we can produce during our working hours.”
They can now process more potatoes each day, produce more bags of chips and send out more to their retail partners. Producing more chips allows Downey room for growth as it can take on the demand of more stores.
“It makes us capable of taking on as many stores as we could dream of, which just wasn’t possible before,” says Bagley. “Knowing our throughput per hour has doubled gives us the confidence to take on more stores knowing that we can deliver on the demand that will come with them.”
Previously, the company had a Vanmark peeling machine that had served them well since the business began. “Of course, since she was trusty for 40 years, we thought it was best to go with Vanmark again, and it has been a really good choice,” Bagley continued.
“The relationship with Vanmark and how the whole process of being walked through everything from the old machine to the new one has been absolutely wonderful,” says Bagley. “You need a team that’s there with you, that knows what they’re doing, that puts out awesome equipment that’s reliable. When you have peace of mind in that area, it makes everything else so easy.”
For Downey, having a partner like Vanmark to grow with the business is vital to its future.
“Having simple, easy machinery that works makes a world of difference,” Bagley said. “To have a company that’s going to grow with us over the next 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years as we saw with the old machine is just ... awesome.”
Vanmark expertly manufactures industrial potato and produce processing equipment that optimizes in-process storage, washing, peeling and cutting processes. Learn more at vanmark.com.
About Downey's Potato Chips
The company's story began in 1984 when Rosemary Downey Hogarth and her family began selling hot chips out of the first Downey's storefront in Waterford, Michigan. It has been making kettle chips by hand in small batches ever since. The company is proud to be family-owned, family-operated, and made exclusively in Michigan.